26 March 2009

Field Trip

Field trip today to Minneapolis to wine and dine with the University of Minnesota's Graduate School of Design. I'm so excited to meet the professors and students that are a part of the many design programs offered at the University. I will be staying with my cousin overnight and have subsequently been ogling Mapquest all morning. Did you know they have photo images of practically every intersection and turning lane in the Twin Cities? (This is probably true for every turning lane in the world.)

Here are some images of my Underwater Garden roving that I have already spun into fingering weight singles meant for a pair of socks. I already have the socks started and packed. I wouldn't leave home without a few knitting projects in my bag.

24 March 2009


Spring must have finally happened around here. This morning I was sitting with a cup of coffee in the living room, staring off into space as I do most mornings, when I heard a strange but familiar sound from the innards of our chimney. A scrabble and a chatter and a lot of chirping: the birds are back from sunny Mexico. Some brave hen has set up living quarters on the other side of the stones and she's not a quiet tenant. This pattern is posted on Ravelry thanks to Dreya Davenport & Craftster.com. (It's free!) I made mine out of hand painted, hand spun merino top. P.S. I found the tiny nest abandoned in a fence row last fall. I keep it on my desk. Can you pick out all of the different materials the birds used to construct it?

I couldn't crack a single one of these eggs without taking a photo first. My family plans to build a chicken coop later this spring. Soon there will be fresh eggs a plenty at Tendril & Twine.

20 March 2009

Bad Mothers

I can't help it, every time I bake chocolate chip cookies I think about bad mothers. My mother's definition of bad mothers, that is. I guess I was a pretty impressionable kid and a goody two-shoes, which is a very dangerous combination.

So you've got this kid (me, namely) who was very impressionable and seriously type A, and it was suggested (by my mother) that the consumption of raw cookie dough was risky business. More than a stomachache could result. ( I imagined sugar seizures, volcanic vomiting, and then a slow death in my mother's desperate arms. Hadn't she warned me?!) So I never ate raw cookie dough at my friend's houses, even though it was offered by their terrible mothers, and enjoyed, I might add, by everyone else.

Today I eat gobs and gobs of raw cookie dough every time I bake a batch of cookies. I feel smug, but I'm smart enough not to let my mother catch me.
Here's a project that's been lingering in my knitting bag for more than 6 months. It's a Blue Sky Alpacas pattern: Eyelet Cardigan.

I started it in a mad rush late last summer and just wimped out on it after a few weeks. I intend to finish it this weekend. I hope I can meet this deadline. I only have one more sleeve and the button band to complete.

front panels

The yarn is Rowan Calmer in Ivory, but the color puts me more in mind of raw cookie dough.

Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro!

Luna and Triplets

One of the best things about growing up on a farm was inviting my friends over for camp outs during summer break. We set up a campsite in our backyard and sat out late around the campfire. Some nights we told spooky stories and went to bed shivering, but it was all in good fun. Until the night we woke up to moaning out in the pasture. It could have been the bogeyman come to get us, or a pack of maniacs escaped from the nut house--but it wasn't anything that gruesome--just a heifer having some troubles giving birth to her calf.

Peanut & Penny

We gathered our flashlights and ducked under the fence into the cow pasture. Barefoot we dodged cow pies and prickle bushes to make our way over to the discomforted mother. To this day I don't know why she didn't move away, instead she just stood there moaning. Someone tripped away to wake my dad, and before the hour struck 2 a.m. he'd delivered a little bull calf amidst a gaggle to preteen girls with tears in their eyes. Now imagine me, twenty years later, all alone on the farm with a ewe in the first stages of labor.

Like I described in an earlier post, there's not much you can do for a laboring ewe, save watch and wait and get out of the way. But this specific ewe was our tiniest mother: Penny. I guessed she was only having one lamb, but oh how she struggled and strained each time she got the urge to push. It was difficult to watch. I was more than relieved when my dad came home to check on the animals. While I braced Penny, he pulled the lamb, a hefty little 14 lb number we're calling Peanut for the irony. (The photo at the top of the post is another ewe, Luna, she went into labor at 10 p.m. later in the evening and delivered triplets.)

18 March 2009

do over

It's not every day you get a do over. I guess I'm scrabbling for a euphemism here . . . because I'm currently frogging an almost finished project. I counted the stitches wrong. I bet you're wondering how I got this far? Well, I counted them just wrong enough so that I could complete the intricate cable pattern but not maintain it during the subsequent decreases at the crown of the hat. The hard part was figuring out where I went wrong and then bracing myself to tear out stitches.

17 March 2009

A Fine Tangle

Blackberry Wine, hand spun romeldale

As promised, here's a preview of my first attempt at Navajo plying. The resulting three ply yarn is a bit lumpy and bumpy, but I find that I love the texture. When I started to ply it together (after first spinning my wheel the wrong direction and unraveling many maddening knots) I attempted to achieve some semblance of uniformity, but as you can see I have settled for a uniform disorder.
I love the textures and colors in this yarn. The warm blackberries and mulberries, the sage and barley tones. The yarn has a glossy finish, as well as a stretch and elasticity that makes romeldale fiber a joy to knit and crochet with.

My plans for this skein? Adrian over at Hello Yarn is doing some beautiful things with crochet. I just learned how to crochet, so maybe I'll attempt something in that milieu. Or else, I might knit up a pair of mittens.

Anything to keep this fiber under my fingertips.

14 March 2009

Seven Socks

Socktopus Knitty.com

Ahoy Mate! Doesn't this toy just make you smile? The pictures that go with the pattern on Knitty.com are very sweet. (You'll have to check them out.) When I saw this pattern I knew I had to knit it at once, and handily one of my friends is pregnant, so it makes the perfect gift. Though I almost didn't want to part with it.

Those of you out there who are wary of turning a short row heel, here's a simple practice for you. (Eight tricks, no less!) By the time you're through with this toy you'll be ready to graduate to a pair of socks for your own bipeds.

Octosocks here ran (or shall I saw swam, gushed?) a riot through my stash. Any worsted weight yarn will do. I tried to select colors that really rocked off each other for the most contrast. What type of socks will you put on your seaweedy friend? Perhaps the toy's future playmate will help you make the selections.

Try not to smile. I dare you.

11 March 2009

Lamb Patrol

Buzz 2008

Everyone is in a heightened state of expectation this week on the farm. We have lambs due in the middle of the month, and the ewes are behaving like pregnant females everywhere--they are ready to be done! We are ready for our new spring lambs. Lamb patrol consists of checking on the ewes every few hours to make sure no one's water has broken and no first time mother is delivering outside. (Check the bottom of the page to see what we woke up to this morning. Hint: below zero wind chills and yet more snow.) Other than checking, there's not much you can do for a pregnant ewe, least ways not a healthy one, who just needs time and mother nature to guide her along. The wait is the hard part for us humans.

Here's something I've been waiting to finish: Blackberry Wine spun up on a bobbin. I plan on Navajo plying it later on this evening. My first attempt at that technique, though I was lucky enough to have an experienced spinner teach me the skill last month at my Tuesday night knitting and spinning circle. I'll post the results, of course!

Snow & Wind

March has come in like a lion, but it will go out with a batch of new lambs on our farm.

09 March 2009

Anthropology of Turquoise

"I used to wonder why the sea was blue in the distance and green close up and colorless for that matter in your hands. A lot of life is like that. A lot of life is just a matter of learning to like blue." Miriam Pollard The Listening God

It's nice to finally finish a book that's been sitting beside my bed for a few weeks: The Anthropology of Turquoise, by Ellen Meloy, and post some photos inspired by her words. My sister is getting married in a few months, and I am her maid of honor. Here is a preview of her bridesmaid gowns. I think she made a wonderful choice in color, the hues she selected are titled mermaid and oasis. They are different styles and fabrics, but both are long and fall in a silky sweep to the ankle.


The yarn featured beside the gowns is hand spun merino. I call the colorway Amulet

08 March 2009


These socks (Sweetheart Socks, Interweave Holiday 2007) make me want to miscite love poems by Robert Burns. My love is like a red, red rose that's newly bloomed in June. . . and so on and so forth. Once started they are hard to put down. The pattern is challenging, but after a few repeats I've stopped bending my bamboo needles and started to relax.

It's not just the front panel that draws ohhs and ahhs, the back is just as intriguing. Never before have I executed such twists and turns in my stitches. This is like a very fiery, slightly dangerous, weekend love affair, that will have no repercussions besides the possibility of very sweaty feet should I wear these beauties out of season.

And who wouldn't be tempted to do that?

03 March 2009

Under a Mediterranean Sun

Italian Villa hand-painted, hand-spun, merino top

Today I'm imagining a warmer climate. I'm imagining the Mediterranean coast. It may be winter here in Minnesota, but in Italy it's nothing but warm sun, cypress groves, red rooftops, and the turquoise sea. I was in Italy once. My brother and sister and I took the night train from Barcelona to Rome. All along the coast we wove in the night. We missed many of the picturesque sights that tiptop tourists see: the olive groves, the stone cliffs, the high-flying clouds over cities whose roots are medieval--not to mention their root cellars. Instead we had to deal with a freezing sleeping compartment (sorry guys) a few wandering Italian drunks (they're all softies) and our own travel-worn bodies.

Red Roof, hand-painted, hand-spun, merino top

I look back at the pictures we took. My sister and I in our backpacks, our six foot tall and then some brother looming behind us, and behind him the Alps, an old cathedral, or a rocky coast.

Cathedral Glass, hand-painted, hand-spun, merino top

What I remember most are not words or menus, but colors. The slant of light through cathedral glass and how it illuminated the landscape. How it stung our eyes as we struggled with our bags and staggered off the train after our night ride along the Italian coast. I'm going to knit a pair of socks out of this hand-spun to help me remember all of the places my feet have traveled.

01 March 2009

Snow Day

...snow falling. When you're a kid there's nothing better than looking out the window at dancing snowflakes, especially when you're at school. Perhaps it's early in the day, and you have the afternoon and the playground to look forward to with your pals. A foot of snow can turn a boring, everyday playground into a winter wonderland. A novelty of luxurious snowdrifts and angel nests.

If the snow is falling in earnest there's always the possibility of school shutting down early. First, the precarious bus ride home through tunnels of snow, then your arrival on your snow-covered steps. (The bootprints you leave behind as you tromp up your walk seem like the only sign of human habitation for blocks.) I finished these mittens on just such a snowy day. One of the perks about being a substitute teacher is being able to relive some of the most memorable experiences of my childhood. Unanticipated snow days were the best!

These mittens, titled Tiffany from Knitty.com, are perfect for playing in the snow. I knit mine out of Jamieson Double Knitting in colorways: rosewood, crimson, sunset and spice. Even the names of the colorways make me think of winter. Rosewood crackling on the fire, a crimson scarf, and rosy cheeks the color of sunset. Cinnamon and spice in the hot cocoa. I'm gifting these to my sister. Just like me, she sees all the endless possibilities of a snow day.
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